Wishing a very happy birthday to voice actor/musician Billy West, born today in 1950.
If you watch cartoons at all, chances are you’ve heard Billy on one or most of them. He’s performed in many of TV’s most popular cartoons since the early 90’s when he landed his first lead roles as the title characters on Doug (when it was produced by Nickelodeon) and Ren and Stimpy. In recent years, he’s become famous with Futurama fans for voicing most of the primary cast of characters: Philip J. Fry, Prof. Hubert J. Farnsworth, Dr. Zoidberg, Zapp Brannigan, and President Richard Nixon’s Head.
Billy is also the creator of Billy Bastard, a “semi-autobiographical” adult comedy live-action/puppetry show he’s been developing since 2005 with former Ren and Stimpy animators Jim Gomez and Bill Wray. Originally produced as a TV show pilot, Billy said in a July 2008 interview with SCI FI Wire that he was attempting to turn it into a feature film: “We had a few false starts with big-name producers interested and working on it and then dropping out, and now we have a guy who gets it and wants to see it made into a feature film, so we’re working on the script for that right now.”
The official trailer from the Billy Bastard pilot is available on YouTube.com (narrated by Jim Cummings), although I must caution in advance that it contains strong adult language.
Billy also has a supporting role in the indie comedy Demoted, starring Michael Vartan, Sean Astin, David Cross, and comedian Ron White. The film does not yet have a release date although Billy said in a February 2009 interview with CosmicBookNews.com that it was “coming out soon.” When asked if being on camera was a “new venture” for him, Billy replied, “You know, I never wanted to be in movies and to tell the truth there’s nothing about me that said ‘You gotta get into movies!’ I was really hesitant to do it and I have done a couple of other things on camera in the past. But I had to audition for this and I got it and I had a couple of parts with David Cross and Sean Astin in it. They were funny and sharp as they come.”
For further reading on Billy’s background and career, check out these interviews on MLive.com, Movieweb.com, ArravistePress.com, CNBC’s The Big Idea (via YouTube.com), SCIFI TV Australia, ShavedNeck.com (radio interview), and Hippojuice.com (audio interview).
And naturally, you’ll want to visit Billy’s official site: BillyWest.com.